Employers Provide Work Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Posted in the Mercury News Milpitas Post (San Jose, CA), January 16, 2014

 James Sadeioa, 19, stands with his back toward the kitchen doors, as he concentrates on filling empty pepper shakers that he holds at eye-level near the hanging lights that glow in the interior of Milpitas’ Dave & Buster’s sportsbar.

He is one of three students performing the same task, under the patient gaze of their teacher, David Sorenson, 50, whose class of 10 students with severe disabilities are split into three small groups enacting different tasks at the Dave & Buster’s, Burlington Coat Factory and Sears in the Great Mall on Monday morning.

Sorenson’s students, along with fellow ACCESS post-secondary teacher Stephanie Bentzel’s nine students, make up Milpitas Unified School District’s ACCESS program. The program, created by Bentzel in 2011, aims to give students with severe disabilities access to opportunities to be independent.

When Bentzel came to the Milpitas in 2007, the district was looking to create an educational program for special education students, so she worked with them to start one, taking best practices from other districts’ programs, to serve the students until they turn 22.

Only one student, Kevin Inmany, has graduated from the program so far, and he is currently looking for a job.

“Once they graduate from our program they can either get a job by themselves or with a job coach, or transition into an adult day program,” Bentzel said. “I’m hoping that we have prepared them for their transition into adulthood. It is not the end of the road. We are kind of getting them ready for what they will have to do as an adult.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Find out more about the ACCESS program here.

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